My first daughter is officially 11. Last year birthday stuff got absolutely lost in the ‘magic’ of moving. Each had a party, each was celebrated, none got a proper blog post and we never did do our adult friend/family party (people that would be invited to all 3). This year we are in a much better place to pay proper attention but this time I hesitate to write a full-on letter publically to #1 because other things have changed.
- She is pretty good about me sharing stuff but she is also shy about somethings so like all internet parents I need to make some boundaries
- I am a bit more of a public figure, not that school board is the same as president however my name is more out there locally and the kids don’t need the extra microscope on them
- There was a really scary local thing where a man spotted a kid getting off the bus and decided he would kidnap her. They had no relation otherwise, he just saw her one day. He broke into her house a couple weeks later, shot her parents, kidnapped her and there was a multi-week search and most had given up. She rescued herself in the end, she was locked in a room but figured out when he was gone and got out and made it to a road and got help. She is ok as can be expected but the safety we all feel is a little less secure. Not that *not* blogging about my kids could have prevented something like that, however, less info as the world gets smaller is probably better.
On the other side of the coin, this is my record of what we do and how I see the world. The title reflects that – I have been a mother for 11 years. It has been a really interesting 11 at that, I’ve learned, made mistakes, apologized to nearly everyone in the world for something I felt I did badly, let go of some notions, adopted others and generally aged a decade in the process.
For this birthday we had the good fortune that it was on a Sunday so I let her sleep in and we did a nice breakfast followed by picking out a bike from the shop (to be delivered next week) and picking up a friend for a rock climbing adventure. We had a little time at our house while I cooked the pie that needed hours to chill and the girls decided to have some impromptu sewing time. They made a pretty reasonable elephant pillow with minimal supervision. 11 is really good like that, the basic sewing machine set up and a 2-minute lesson of ‘follow the line and go slow’ and they were good.
Rock climbing was a blast. The place is just far enough away that we won’t do it often but it is a great thing to try. They have harnesses that are super safe for solo climbing and give just enough upwards pressure that I had no problem with the climbs beyond figuring out where to put my hands. I’m very glad I work out though, however, I wish I had my 6-year-olds weight to strength ratio. She was like a spider on the wall and even did the free climb.
Yesterday I spent from 11:30 on at school or with the birthday girl. I did lunch with each daughter and then took #1 out for our mother-daughter afternoon. We got a pedicure and then found pants that fit her. The day was shorter than other years because I still had to pick up her sisters but we had a nice time. The day was capped off by her getting a home visit from our SCA queen and she was given an award of arms, normally an adult award but she has earned it over the past few years doing pretty much everything she was allowed to help the group. It was a pretty special night overall. Not bad for an 11-year-old.
This weekend we will have a friend party and I have no idea how many kids are coming. A bunch. 20 were invited. I’ll just make a lot of pizza rolls and stay out of the way. They are taking on some of the planning so I’ll be hopefully a support system instead of a cruise director.
Otherwise, I did exciting things like meet with our tax guy. Next for me is party prep and that is mostly cleaning because that is NOT in this particular 11-year-olds wheelhouse…
Three days of summer completed, only 137 to go.
Mostly good so far, we had plans and they kept us busy and I think we are getting used to being around each other 24/7. It has only been the equivalent of a long weekend so I’ll re-evaluate when we get to a week. I’m even preplanning next week, whole days in advance.
So far we have;
Celebrated the first day with a fire and friends and a toast to the summer to come
Had friends over, most notable was a Fiona friend whose birthday we will miss and she missed Fiona’s so we did an un-birthday playdate. Nothing makes a little girl feel special like a personal sized cake. (the pans are from Ikea in the kid section, get them!)
Gone to a friends house, rode bikes around the block and played in the yard, traumatizing the many robins who are nesting.
Procured a summer wardrobe for 3 girls since all their summer stuff is deeeeep in storage (remember originally we were supposed to move in April). We lost shopping patience so I have 2 pairs of shorts beyond the workout bottoms I had kept out. I ended up modifying a t-shirt to be more trendy (and less annoying at the neck).
We are reading more but not getting much other ‘school’ stuff done but it has been a busy few days.
Gone to the gym 2x and the pool once – I’m very hopeful to continue this trend since I’ll get both a kid break and a workout.
Today Lars is taking the girls out and I’m getting all the winter stuff out to storage and starting in on all the decorative things we kept out simply to make the house look good for showing. Yes, I do like how it looks too in a hotel sort of way, but in the interest of getting packed in a non-panic I’ll start round 3 with the less essential items.
We even got in a date night! For the first time in WEEKS Lars and I had an evening with no plans and our sitter was ready and willing so we went out to eat together. This isn’t to say we don’t see each other – about half the time we go to different things in the evening but are back by 8ish and do kid bedtime and then have the evening together, just taking the whole night is special.
Given that it is a holiday weekend it double downs on different from a school week with a day trip on Monday. Zoe already said she has no idea what day it is and might just consider all days between now and school Saturday. Why not?
No real drama yet and I’m glad. We have so many things cooking that I think we will exhaust ourselves – I should really put ‘relaxing’ on the list at some point.
ps. I got my side by side done for the kids, here is beginning of the year and end
I’m now a whole year older but you want to know something funny, I’ve accidentally been telling people I was 38 for months because somehow in the birthday blitz of the summer where every other person in my house has a birthday, I just gave myself an honorary year. So, I feel younger today, I get to re-do 6 months of 38. This error in memory was found by a friend who is a Feb birthday in the same year and he insisted that he was 38 so I was 37 and I was pretty sure he was wrong because he just had a baby (really the wife, but, team effort of not sleeping) but nope, he was right.
Most years I have a ton of fun planned for the day. With a birthday a week before Christmas, if you don’t make your own fun, it gets lost in the holiday crazy. This year I just didn’t have plans. The universe was helping me out because last night Fiona was up at 3am with a runny nose that kept her awake and the school nurse called about 10 min after school started so she is home with me. Really, my plan for the day was to do the normal Monday and maybe go to the gym so having a Fiona just means I will schedule in some extra snuggle time instead of a workout.
I did benefit from older children today though. I remember birthdays when they were little that they didn’t know and/or care that it was ‘my’ day, they still wanted their mom 110%. Today my oldest woke up early and made me breakfast brownies. Opening your door to the scent of brownies is a beautiful thing. They also succeeded in keeping a big gift secret from me. That would have never been possible in the past and this morning I got to open an actual surprise birthday gift of an Apple watch. Perfect timing because my Fitbit has broken for the final time…
The day is going to be full of relaxing, finishing a few little projects, and reading all the nice birthday notes from facebook (and my normal Monday laundry, need clean Gis for JuJitsu)
When we started this semi-impulsive move I looked ahead and saw that there were absolutely 2 birthday’s that would be quite in the thick of things and decided I HAD to give myself a break from doing ‘too much’ for the birthdays. However, Fiona and Zoe’s birthday shouldn’t really suffer too much from our move so I tried to find a compromise. Here is what I did.
#1. Since their birthdays are just 2 weeks apart, we found a weekend (the only free weekend day) in between and put their party on ONE day.
#2. We decided to use our new YMCA as the venue since they offered decent party packages and did have our date available so in a nod to the two kids, we actually booked 2 parties
- Zoe turning 7 had more options based on age so we booked her a 3 hour party that included 1h of swimming, 1h of the bounce house, and 1h in the party room.
- Fiona turning 5 had fewer options and to stagger the starts we just booked her a 2 hour party with 1h in the bounce house and 1h in the party room.
- The staggered start meant we could greet each party of kids independently and they moved together as a group and we finished all together in the party room for 2 cakes.
#3. I gave myself a ‘pass’ on making all my decorations and running around to 3 different stores went to Oriental Trading and just clicked around until I had a party in a box. *because of my ongoing relationship with them, Oriental Trading treated me to this build your own birthday party in a box and in return I’m telling you all about it!
- The girls agreed on the emoji theme and that is pretty in right now so it was an easy enough shopping trip. There is even an emoji category at Oriental Trading in the party theme section. I had to cover the standards;
- Table wear; plates, cups, napkins
- treat bag and filling
- some decor to fill up the impersonal (yet nice) room
- a craft to have something to do while food is served etc
I had to be a little creative in some ways and in others there was a super obvious and easy choice but here is the party fresh out of the shipping box (a box I have reused and packed a bunch of family pictures in);
The EASY part was treat bag! First I saw the cellophane bags (bottom right) and then I found the face bag (top right) and I just got both. I hedged my bets about size and quality and in the end I actually used both. The face bags have a narrow top but are otherwise really cute and easy to fill. I put Boom Chicka Pop, the most awesome popcorn, into the cellophane bags and that gave me some nice bulk. The other goodie bag fillings were also pretty easy to hunt up – the emoji stickers, stampers, and pins were all on the theme and good value.
Second most easy were the craft. There are emoji scratch off crafts front and center on the site. They really don’t create anything grand but kids really love scratching off the black to make the design and each packet comes complete for the craft so it was just hand one per kid and let them do what they do.
The Harder part was table wear. Napkins and cups, no problem. No easy options for plates? I searched emoji and smile and nada in the plate family but then I saw these ninja plates and figured they would work just fine. I ended up just using some leftover paper plates for the dinner plate so it was all fine and looked festive. **going back today for links I see they have a dinner plate now! Must have been sold out, but no cake plate so my ninja pick is still a good tip if you are doing an emoji them birthday**
The Hardest part was decor. I didn’t need balloons because filling a balloon you purchase elsewhere is nearly impossible so I just buy them here. In the end, I got the plain yellow pennant banner and my sharpie and I decorated while we watched some TV the night before. Let me tell you, a 200f banner is REALLY long. It did make the room look emoji theme with only 1 decoration so that is a big impact. I ended up cutting it so I had a big one on the wall and a small one to decorate the serving table.
Overall a party in a box + a venue I didn’t need to clean made it a very fun and pretty easy party. There were questions of service and organization on the part of the Y, but, I’m working on that. Let’s just say you can’t expect much from teen party assistants….
It is not a secret that Oriental Trading is an easy one stop party shop but now there is proof that in 20min of shopping and a few minutes of assembly you can have a nearly Pinterest worthy party with nearly no effort.
I’m not sure I’ll be stacking parties like this again, it was a whirlwind, but give the time we have it was the best we could do and everyone had a good time so that is what counts.
Last week you turned 5 and it happened to be in the middle of us getting ready to move so it was not an ideal day but I think you really did like it. Becki took you out for the day and you came back tired and happy but 5 year olds don’t stop – you went right out to Jujitsu with your sisters and came home exhausted and ready for cake (brownies) and bed. I wonder if your whole 5th year will be as crazy.
You are the child I think I have spent the most time with. Somehow though you feel like you need me most still. It is a little the age, a little bit you. When I am around and something goes wrong I am the embodiment of a bunker, a band-aid, and teddy bear all in one person. I have seen you work out problems and not fall apart so I know you can, but, I don’t mind being here for you always.
Preschool is over for the year and you did great. Not a bit of separation issues beyond an extra hug every day. Your teacher Ms. Kayla was fantastic and loved you and you loved her. Now you know every letter and number and can write most of them very well. You love to write actually, you write all the time. Sometimes even on walls… Your hobby right now is to cut interesting shapes out of paper so your cutting skills are very good. When you draw and paint, and that is as often as I let you, you are making people and families and noticing odd little things about a person and adding them into the pictures. Gone are the days of abstract, hello 10,000 pictures of our family 🙂 You are also getting decent at sounding out small words when you are in the mood, I hope you have fun in Kindergarten next year.
You did great with the carpool and you and Reilly are super good friends even though you are pretty different kids. In school you made some true friends, friends I get the feeling we will be seeing a lot of over the next 6+ years. I love when kids make friends completely outside of family influence – these are not the children of my friends or the siblings of sisters friends. Selfishly, this usually means new friends for me because cool kids usually have cool parents and 5-year-olds can’t do playdates alone. You think you can though, you think you can do nearly anything your sisters can and your TV and music taste has been artificially aged. Where Niamh was singing Laurie Berkner and Disney at this age, you sing “Way down Below” and “Cheap Thrills”. The best was when you sang the same bit of another song; “1,2,3 your gonna come back to me, I’m the best baby you will ever ever see” when you were sure it was just a counting song for babies. Oh well, that is what happens with #3. You also have a better vocabulary and listen to audio books intended for kids 8+. I never know how much sinks in but we recently listened to a Greek Myth book and just yesterday you told me that Zeus was God’s (Baby Jesus God you made clear) Godfather. I’ll take that, seems like a realistic situation…
As #3 you do tend to almost always have sisters around but this past two years you had significant time as the only child all day while they were at school. Yes, we did tons together and you did want (and get) books and snuggles but for large chunks of time you like to do your OWN thing. You don’t even want the puppy out with you. I’m not sure what fantastic game is going on but you will swing on the swings and run around the yard for about 40 min happy as can be. Same with your room – you go in there and have elaborate games with all the toys. Eventually, you get bored and want to do things with me and there is almost always things to do. You are probably the best at cleaning and loading the dishwasher because we do a lot of that. Sometimes you even do chores all on your own, other times you still claim to be the baby. Your view on life is usually 110%
Speaking of babies. You still LOVE them. You don’t actually have to have your 2 baby dolls at ALL times anymore and you actually are ok with missing any favorite toy at bedtime for the most part, but you still love them. Our friend had a real baby and we would watch him and a real baby was a horse of a different color… you did have some jealousy for sure but you also had that internal protect the small thing instinct and did plenty to help him be happy and me take care of him. I’m really glad we got that experience for you and I’m glad we could help a friend.
Jumping over to gross motor (ha ha) this was a big year for you. You can now swim pretty ok; we started in January and you didn’t really even want to get in the pool and now you bob and actually swim. You are well on the way to really swimming, thanks, YMCA. You are learning your bike but like your sisters, you are faster on a scooter or even just running. You can monkey bar the whole way across and you will jump off way too many things. You started Jujitsu 2 weeks ago and you’re not quite sure about it but I needed time to pack so you needed to go. You also just started archery and knife throwing with Dad, he says your are pretty good. For a large chunk of the summer and fall, we did Pokemon hunting, great reason for a walk and we walked all over town, miles a day most nice days. I’m glad to have 3 active girls and I hope I’m a good role model even if I can’t do the monkey bars.
I’ve been writing on this for a few days so it is getting long. I should really stop so here are some quick other things that were you at 4; you still wanted to sleep with me and would often sneak in around 3am. You fall asleep really fast most nights but 1 in 10 you stay up until 11. You still have allergies and all colds turn into nasty chest issues and you need your machine. Your favorite color is changeable, you love Addie and Reilly as your friends, and you still take baths mostly and are growing out of hair twirling so we might see you with longer hair someday. In your 4th year you went to Hawaii, NY, PA, ND, WI Dells and WI in general, and all over MN. You are not the weakest link on a road trip and you are getting pretty good at operating all the electronics solo. There are still tantrums but you actually lean more toward surly sadness. You mimic and tag along and drive your sisters crazy but you also play with them – the destruction phase is over. You still put way too many things in your mouth and absently pick at things until they are in bits. We get you gum to try and help and it actually does. Your well child is today and I expect them to report that you are 40lb because we just weighed you at the vet Tuesday. You love to snuggle and cuddle and even if it is tiring for me, I am still the answer to most of the problems of the world for you.
Hello! Guess what? I have a 5 year old! and she isn’t the oldest, she is my youngest. Fiona, my change baby (not that change…) is again having a birthday in the middle of a giant life change. She will get her birthday post and I’m also full of other post too, much like the pairing down of possessions one wants to move I have had to pare down what I can actually do in my life. My normal workouts have been dropped to what I can do while they are at swim lessons and 2x other people have brought them so I could do more house stuff. Blogging is on the casualty list too and unfortunately, so is watching TV or reading so busy with all the things! Today I’m going to use my WHOLE computer hour on the blog so get ready for lots of words.
I am getting feeling flashbacks from other times in my life when many important things were going on at the same time. I used to make lists of the major things and their due dates and I did actually get every paper turned in, was on time for every exam, and moved out in good order in college. This is a whole new level of the game though because those things were black and white – move out meant take all your stuff and put it in the car and drive home to Long Island. This time I can’t just clean sweep it all, I need to stage in my wake AND we are living her AND we don’t know where we are actually moving to OR when.
So to the people that I’m not there for like normal, I am very sorry… I hope this is all for the good and I can get back to being a good friend again.
On the positive side – I am not pregnant! that was not actually a concern at all but this would be WAY worse if I was and when you are in birthday season you think about that 9th month and the tiny baby and resulting world shift and this is not that. It is something different, but, it holds the same promise of a new beginning and the waiting and the uncertainty of ‘when’ and ‘what’ have a lot of similarities. I also have kids that while not totally helpful are big enough to not need my constant care. 5 years ago I was starting the stay at home mom life and that was another giant shift in my life. All 6 little eyes on me for all the things. No break, not a lot of help, and the brain activity of trying to make all the things work in a new envelope of time without dropping too many important things too often. Like I said, I am having feeling flashbacks because this is not the first time I’ve done something stressful of juggled things or worked with
Like I said, I am having feeling flashbacks because this is not the first time I’ve done something stressful of juggled things or worked with uncertainty and major decisions. Thankfully they are all things I think I managed to get through pretty well and hopefully this one is no different.
Sine this is my blog I’m going to pat myself on the back for my yesterday achievements. 5 years ago I produced a person from my body who knows the alphabet and can do the whole monkey bar solo but still eats boogers. Yesterday I got up early to do my contract work, then greeted the birthday girl. We made pancakes and whipped cream and sang and she was happy. Dealt with some sister jelly attitude without losing it. Got all kids and pup into the car and to carpool on time and to school perfectly. Had coffee with a Vacation Mom who took Fiona out for her birthday (and my work day) and they went to the zoo and dairy queen while I finished contract work, got all the things on cabinets or walls or hooks in the entire kitchen level packed or put away or in the sell/donate pile. I cleaned up days of ignored kitchen.
In the afternoon I met the kids and kept working on the kitchen. When the painter got here it was at least at 90% ready and coincidently Lars was done working so we did Fiona gifts outside under our favorite tree. She loved everything from everyone, 5 is a happy age. She was as happy with the pack of gum as the scooter. They played and I went back to chipping away. I paused to help all 3 girls get ready for jujitsu – you heard that right all THREE of them went to jujitsu with Lars. The plan was for them to get birthday dinner out after as well as a trip to storage and be home for cake. I moved on to the green room where I started packing and styling the giant built in book case while the kitchen was painted. I threw in a batch of brownies that was done just as they came home and we sang happy birthday with my parents on the iPad on our back deck and then the girls enjoyed our long daylight with playing outside until nearly 9. Not done yet! I actually looked at Zoe’s folder and noticed she was on the 1st for snack in June and I actually remembered in the store on Tuesday night so I had things in the house to make the final cute class snack. Niamh was the trooper on this, delaying her own bedtime to help me do them. The day was finally over and the living room was enough together we could actually watch 1 tv show.
In more full truth, because that really does have the ring of super mom, I’m like a duck with the frantic feet but the top level looks pretty good. We did gifts on the lawn and ate on the deck because there is not one place to sit in the entire kitchen because the table and chairs are holding all the things either unsorted or normally on a wall that plan on going back. I put in brownies 15min before they got back because I completely forgot until that second. Seeing Zoe’s snack day was more happy accident than good parent that looks at all the papers in the folder. Gifts were purchased 2 days in advance via amazon and 1 I knew would be late and 1 just didn’t show up yesterday… the others were gotten in a walmart trip the night before that I made after seeing a house. I’ve gone to lots of hardware and paint stores in the past 2 weeks but we are pretty low on groceries – good way to get the refrigerator and pantry clean!
I think that I’m doing ok but there are pinch points where I just wish it were easier. I am making progress but the list is still very very long. Vacation mom and Lars are both makigng it much better and I’m happy we have a painter friend who can help us because if I was doing this all alone I would be a giant mess and I’m glad his wife is ok with him being here so much. The goal is to have the house ready to have pictures on Tuesday and start showing when we are gone to NY. I’m torn between wanting to be here to make sure the house is perfect and wanting to remove 3 kids and a puppy from the equation…. Any crossed fingers or good wishes are welcome as we keep doing the do.